Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The City Paper, Another Murdered Cop, And Bad Humor

(Funeral Procession For Police Officer Cassidy)

The latest edition of the Philadelphia City Paper published a letter I wrote to the editor that was critical of the "Bell Curve" section of the paper, which I thought took a cheap shot at the soon-to-be-released book by Maureen Faulkner about her book "Murdered By Mumia".

For those of you who don’t know, "The Bell Curve" is the purported "quality of life meter" for the City of Philadelphia with a pretty clever twist in that offers a kind of sarcastic take on the news of the week and than rates it as either a plus or negative.

A few issues ago, the "Bell Curve" placed as a negative, Maureen Faulkner and Michael Smerconish’s book about Daniel Faulkner’s 1981 murder and the ensuing Mumia mania that has followed.

The exact text of the "Bell Curve" swipe at Maureen Faulkner is as follows

"Maureen Faulkner and Michael Smerconish’s book, Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice, available for pre-order on And Minus 1"

Of course, there is no "" and the "Curve" was supposed to be a snarky comment, meant to be funny, however many people, myself included, did not get the joke. And I realize from reading numerous articles from City Paper editor, Brian Hickey, has a real distaste for Michael Smerconish and that the "Curve" comment was much more likely directed at Smerconish than it was at Maureen Faulkner. This and the fact that there are plenty of bigots who do attach themselves to the "Fry Mumia" cause, just as much as there are bigots who attach themselves to the "Free Mumia" cause.

I get the idea that it was intended to be funny, but it wasn’t. And if a joke isn’t funny it isn’t much of a joke. I would further add that if the talent pool at the City Paper is so deficient that it needs to take aim at the widows of murdered Police Officers for laughs, even if it was obliquely, than I think that a sad testament to the "alternative media" in Philadelphia.

So with that in mind, I quickly wrote a letter and sent it off to the paper.

Now, flash forward a week and a Philadelphia Police Officer named Chuck Cassidy was brutally gunned down as he attempted to stop an armed robbery at a Dunkin Donuts. His alleged murderer, John Lewis was caught after an extensive manhunt while hiding in Miami and has reportedly confessed to the murder.

There was no snide remarks about the possibility that Officer Cassidy was on his way into Dunkin Donuts to stock up on a couple of dozen glazed in the "Bell Curve" this week as much of Philadelphia was mourning another cop who gave it all so that some in the city may know peace.

Instead, Brian Hickey himself took the very Michael Smerconish sounding position that the killer of Officer Cassidy was an "urban terrorist" and a "fat boy scumbag", who deserved nothing more than death. He concludes his polemic with the very un-liberal statement that he is "...done worrying about civil rights and people whining about inequities in death-penalty convictions. If you kill a cop, you should lose your life. Anybody who says otherwise is an enabler, with the blood of two beloved police officers on their hands."

I disagree, and as someone who spends a good amount of time working to dismantle the apparatus that facilitates the deification of cop-killer, Mumia Abu-Jama and the explicitly cop-killing cult known as MOVE, I hardly consider myself as an "enabler"of cop-killers. But I do understand that many Philadelphians are simply fed up with the bloodshed that seems to flow un-checked, to the point that violent criminals seemingly have no fear of taking on armed and trained police officers and killing them in cold blood. It is a situation that should cause a change of heart and mind and it apparently is. The death of Officer Cassidy has brought with it an outpouring of emotion that is transcending the usual race and class paradigms that are often the impediments to a unified revolt against senseless criminality.

It appears that the media has taken notice and responded accordingly. And so I don’t fault Hickey for his somewhat hyperbolic and what I believe to be a heart-felt expression of anger towards pointless violence. This, even though I might disagree with some of his conclusions.
Let us hope that this righteous indignation continue and spread to the point that it is the violent criminals who live in a perpetual state of fear and that those they have victimized for so long are the ones to lead the revolt.

My letter is as follows

As a reader of the City Paper for a number of years, I have frequently made my way to the Bell Curve for at least a momentary laugh. However, the cheap shot taken at Maureen Faulkner was not only unfunny, but displayed a kind of calculated cynicism.

I am not one for sacred cows; I hold fast to the idea that anyone who enters the public arena makes themselves fair game for ridicule, condemnation and even some politically incorrect humor from time to time. However, if Faulkner happened to be an African-American mother of one of the 300-plus people murdered in Philadelphia this year, I don't have to wonder if there would be jokes made at her expense. That she is white and a widow of a police officer who is outspoken in her pro-death-penalty views ought not place her at the top of a list of mockery. Nor should the fact that she has teamed up with Michael Smerconish diminish her moral credibility.

Although the only political position that Smerconish and I would probably agree on would be that Mumia is guilty and that MOVE is a violent cult, he has done more to demythologize the whole Mumia phenomena than just about anyone else. His work to put trial transcripts online while working for Faulkner pro-bono demonstrate to me that he is more than a low-rent version of Bill O'Reilly.

I noticed that one of those [readers] who wrote in defense of the Bell Curve's snide comment alluded to some kind of monetary motivation for Faulkner and Smerconish's book, this while essentially defending murder as a punch line. But the fact is that the proceeds from the book are going to a charity that benefits children of murdered Philadelphians. If there is a calculated effort to bring relief to these suffering people, then I hardly think it ought to be criticized.

This, while the real "cult," the personality one that exists around Mumia, continues to be a swirling vortex of wasted time, money and good intentions. When was the last time the Mumia cult did anything for anyone? I expect this kind of crude and shallow cruelty from the Mumia crew, but not from a respectable institution such as the City Paper. At the very least, I think an apology is in order.

Tony Allen


At 5:14 AM , Blogger Trench Reynolds said...

Excellent post as always.

At 8:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another slain police officer.

Teah, real funny.

At 8:36 PM , Blogger Tony Allen said...

Thanks Trench.

I do think if anything positive can come out of the death of Officer Cassidy it is that people from all walks of life are starting to wake up to the idea that idolizing and marketing criminality is not the way to solve the problem of violenc


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